Autism is a lifelong developmental disability which affects how people communicate and interact with the world. One in 100 people are on the autism spectrum and there are around 700,000 autistic adults and children in the UK.

Autism is a spectrum condition and affects people in different ways. Like all people, autistic people have their own strengths and weaknesses. Below is a list of difficulties autistic people may share:

  • Social, communication, and social interaction challenges.
  • Repetitive and restrictive behaviour.
  • Over or under sensitivity to light, sound, taste, or touch.
  • Highly focused interests or hobbies.
  • Anxiety.
  • Meltdowns and shutdowns.
  • Difficulty understanding how other people think or feel.

Autistic people process sensory information differently and this can impact how they interact with the environment and their ability to interact with other people.

An autistic person can be ‘under’ or ‘over’ sensitive in any of the senses – including sight, hearing and balance. This means sounds, lights, touch and smells can be painful or very uncomfortable.

To reduce discomfort, some autistic people may wear sunglasses indoors or wear ear defenders – or prefer not to be touched or only eat specific foods.

Some autistic people are able to live relatively independent lives but others may face additional challenges. Some autistic people have learning disabilities, which means their support needs are different.